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2,700-Year-Old Pottery Found in City of David

Newly-discovered pottery shards with writing dating back 2,700 years shed more light on the First Temple era.
By Shlomo Pyutrokovski
First Publish: 8/18/2013, 10:56 AM

The pottery shard
The pottery shard
Courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority

Archaeologists working in the Gihon Spring area in the City of David in Jerusalem have discovered many ancient artifacts, including pottery shards, clay candle holders, and figurines dating back to the times of the First and Second Temples.

One recently discovered item has aroused particular interest: a pottery shard dating back to the First Temple period that includes part of a phrase etched into its rim. The writing may indicate proof of the existence of a Biblical figure.

The partial phrase reads “...ryahu ben Benaya,” a possible reference to the prophet Yecheziel ben Zaharyahu ben Benaya, who is mentioned in the Biblical book of Chronicles 2, in chapter 20, verse 14. However, because the writing is incomplete, the full name cannot be verified.

The archaeologists who discovered the pottery shard have dated it to 2,700 years ago – some time between the kingdom of Hezekiah and the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE during the reign of King Zedekiah.

Archaeologists have previously found writing in the same area, on pottery as well as in the form of stamps and etchings in stone. Some writing has revealed names, including Gamaryahu ben Shafan (a family mentioned in the biblical texts as well) and Benayahu ben-Hoshayahu.

The shard will go on display on Thursday of this week as part of the 14th City of David Research Exhibition.